Latest articles


Selling nutrients: the last straw

Practical Research: How to degrade productive cropland by selling the nutrients after the harvest season

Sandy soil areas are not uncommon on the Canadian Prairies, especially west and north of Edmonton, my home area. It made me wince when I saw endless lines of wheat straw bales on countless sandy fields this fall. Technically speaking, straw should never be sold on any kind of cropland unless there is a very […] Read more


Yes to peas, no to aphanomyces

Peas are a great crop for the Prairies, but aphanomyces root rot is a major threat

Peas as a human and animal feed have been around since 5000 BC. The pea plant, a nitrogen-fixing legume, originated in the cooler areas of the Himalayas and was subsequently cultivated extensively in the Mediterranean basin. Peas, dried peas in particular, were a major part of the diet in the U.K. in the 19th and […] Read more



Tractor spraying soybean field

Avoiding herbicide mis-use

Herbicides have made it easier to feed the world, but beware of residuals and improper use

Herbicides are an integral and essential aspect of modern productive farming. Without our effective and efficient herbicides our dollar costs for food production would be double or triple what we now pay. Can your even visualize hand weeding agricultural and horticultural crops? As a youth I earned pocket money hand hoeing turnips and beets and […] Read more


What’s up honey?

The truth about honeybees’ importance in North America. Hint: it’s less than you think

In the last few years the general public has been bombarded and brainwashed with the supposed tremendous importance of honeybees in North America. Let’s get down to the facts. First of all, honeybees can technically be classified as invasive pests since the honeybee, Aphis melifera, is not native to the Americas — or Australia or […] Read more



The latest buzz on fusarium in cereal crops

Fusarium is destructive, and Alberta’s zero-tolerance policy is in trouble in durum areas

Fusarium head blight (FHB), fusarium graminearum, or tombstone as it’s called in the U.S. has become one of the most destructive diseases of small grain cereals and corn in North America. Fusarium head blight first became a problem in Ontario where it produced toxins on grain corn. Just to confuse you, this disease on corn […] Read more


Clubbed to debt: the rise of clubroot

Protect your best cash crop from the hazards of clubroot by taking these precautions

I first ran into the clubroot disease of crucifers on the farm where I grew up in West Wales. Farmers did not know much about the disease other than it came from purchasing cabbage transplants and it was most destructive on sour soil, a term for acidic soil. Control was stated to involve heavy liming […] Read more



Looking for disaster yellows

There has been few incidences this year, but aster yellows can cause high yield losses

This year I have travelled extensively around Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and I have not seen a single canola plant with aster yellows (AY). A friend of mine said she found one plant only, in Saskatchewan in canola. Contrast this with 2012 when this phytoplasmic disease of canola, wheat, barley, flax, potatoes and probably all […] Read more


Don’t blame ergot on the weather

Copper deficiency leads to the development of many diseases in cereal crops

If you’re a pedigreed seed grower and you’ve discovered that one of your seed fields, either wheat or barley, is infested with ergot, you have a problem but it’s not what most, if not all of you think. Don’t blame it on a common diagnosis of cold, wet growing conditions. It’s more likely caused by […] Read more



Where have these funguys gone?

Herbicides and “new” crops may play a role in controlling disease

Back in the 1970s and ’80s when I worked for Alberta Agriculture, take-all of wheat and barley and snow mould of winter wheat were hot topics on the Canadian prairies. Yield losses from these two diseases were considerable. Wet summers were bad for take-all, while deep snow winters often led to snow mould. I remember […] Read more